Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Something's fishy here

We all know by now that there's something fishy about fish. A few years a go the documentary Darwin's Nightmare opened our eyes to the ecologically unsustainable and socially unjust way fish was farmed at the Victoria Lake. We hear that while fishing tuna, dolphins get caught in the nets. We hear about the bluefin tuna becoming extinct if we keep on fishing it the way we do. But sometimes, we also hear some good news. On TED, my dealer of good news, there's this video to watch:

Dan Barber explains how he, as a chef, tries to cook with sustainable products. When asked to present at a conference about his favorite fish, he decided to ask the supplier for more details about this environmentally friendly fish. As it so appears, the fish were fed 'sustainable protein', which in other words meant chicken bones and feathers. Nice, especially for vegetarians. He does however find a fish that seems to be farmed in a more sustainable and healthy way. Watch this video and let Dan take you on his journey. The other talk he gave on TED, about Fois Gras, is also definitely worth watching!

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

A preaching hypocrite with turquoise shoes

Sometimes, I'm a bit of a preacher. I tell people which books to read (Stephen Covey), what websites to visit (, which fish not to eat (tuna), which jeans to wear (Kuyichi) and what music to listen to (Mayra Andrade). Sometimes I'm just enthusiastic and that's nice (many of my friends actually watch TED now and we share great stories). But sometimes I'm mainly being annoying.

Why is that? My vegetarian friends (and I have many) never try to convince me not to eat meat. I, on the other hand. preach about tuna. My life turned tuna free after I read an article in TIME magazine that hit a nerve with me. Several years a go after watching 'Darwin's nightmare' I didn't eat Nile Perch fillet anymore. But somehow my awareness of the terrible conditions under which the fish from the Victoria lake is caught and made into fillets, faded away.

I try to do the right things and to buy the right goods. But everything we do in this regard raises many questions, such as: how do we actually know the information we are getting (about tuna or about the good working condition of Kuyichi staff in Peru) is true? Once we start buying one pair of 'conscious' jeans should we ensure all our clothes are made by employees that get social benefits? And if so, how do we check that? Should we both look at the social AND the environmental aspects? And if we have to choose, which aspect is more important to us?

Recently, I ask myself these questions and people around me do the same. After buying a beautiful pair of green (turquoise according to the brand's website) heels, a friend asked me if I was sure they weren't made by Brazilian children. It was only then I realized, I hadn't looked into that at all. While buying the shoes, I just thought about the beauty and the quality (yes, I refuse to buy crappy shoes anymore). If we want to contribute to making the world better and to ensure that our footprint is as small as possible, how should we go about it? Should we check the whether all products we buy are biological and fair trade? Should I just stop flying airplanes? Traveling is probably my biggest contribution to an unsustainable world. Can I quit? Would it make a difference if everyone is else is still doing it?

As you can see, I have many questions about this subject. This blogpost starts my exploration of this topic and posts to come will try to answer the questions. And let me come out for it, just for the record: My name is Amis Boersma and I am a hypocrite.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Ain't nothing wrong with loving coffee

At the start of this year, I mapped out my wishes for 2010 and started my personal year plan (see here). Inspired by what I had read on a lifestyle design blog, I asked my significant other what according to him was something that makes me tick, one thing that I cannot stop talking about. "Coffee" he said. "Coffee?!" I yelled, "What kind of a do-gooder am I, if I talk more about coffee than about anything else?". Well, that got me thinking. About many things, but mostly about how coffee really deserves a blogpost, or maybe even more. Because it IS true, I really do LOVE coffee.

With or without my fabulous Gaggia machine around (which is still in Amsterdam), I see it as a challenge to make a great caffe latte. I get excited when at bars they have the milk and coffee layered or (even better) when the have done some kind of foam art. I like places where they serve good cookies with your cup of koffie verkeerd ('wrong' coffee in Dutch, referring to the fact that there is more milk than coffee in the cup). A nice biscotti or thin sweet biscuit does it for me. I like it when it is clear that the person who made the coffee loves it as much as I do.

And yes, of course there are people insanely crazy about coffee. They even make Latte Art videos and post them online. Here are two great examples:

There is of course a lot more to say about coffee. And I will do just that, soon.